Former St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta’s multiple-front legal battle eased a bit this week after prosecutors from the state Attorney General’s Office dropped the lone charge he faced in St. Tammany Parish.
But Peralta still faces more than two dozen counts in St. Bernard and East Baton Rouge parishes, including perjury, filing false public records, malfeasance in office, obstruction of justice, extortion and others.
Peralta faced a stalking count in St. Tammany. Prosecutors dropped it March 31, court records show.
He had been accused of stalking his ex-wife, Sharon Schaefer, who moved to St. Tammany after the pair divorced.
It wasn’t the first time their relationship had been the focus of criminal proceedings. Schaefer accused Peralta of raping her, a claim he denied, saying the two had engaged in “rough sex.” Peralta was charged with sexual battery, but that was dropped.
While that charge was still pending, however, authorities accused Peralta of stalking Schaefer by sending her emails and posting about her online.
During the investigation, authorities took computers, phones and other materials from Peralta. Schaefer said in court filings that he had continued to “harass and threaten” her despite an agreement between the two that neither would contact the other.
“We are very pleased” by the dropping of the stalking charge, said Peralta’s attorney, Martin Regan, who added that he hoped new Attorney General Jeff Landry is taking a close look at the entire case.
Peralta still faces six counts in Baton Rouge, including allegations that he used campaign funds to gamble at casinos and then didn’t report the expenditures. A status hearing on that case is set for Monday.
In August, he was indicted again in St. Bernard, this time on 22 new counts ranging from compelling employees to help him stalk his wife to pressuring them for campaign contributions and taking bribes on a technology contract.
Regan said he’s confident that once he is allowed to present evidence, Peralta will be cleared of all the charges against him. “We have compelling evidence to counter every charge,” he said.
Peralta has never wavered in maintaining his innocence and claiming the charges against him were politically motivated. True or not, they likely ended his political career. He polled just 3 percent in his October bid for re-election, finishing fifth in a seven-person field.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.